Church

And while I’m away
I’m leaving the fiancée in charge
Have you met her?
Yes
She’s the one
Who behaves like a whore
Has been unfaithful
On numerous occasions
Been violent
Lusted after fame
And fortune
But what can I do?
I love her endlessly
She’s my bride
And even
If she’s messed
With your own heart
And head
You should love her
And live with her too
Because
Apart from second hand words
She’s all you’ve got
Of me

Love languages

There is a theory that we each express love in different ways that can be classified broadly under 5 “love languages“:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Giving/Receiving Gifts

It’s interesting that our two older children seem to have preferences for the way that they give and receive love. Today I have been wondering what makes us develop these kind of preferences; are we born hard-wired for a love language or are there environmental influences in our development that  cause us to develop preferences?

Do these preferences develop because that is how we experience love, or do we develop a craving for a love language if we experience a deficiency in it?

Why do I need words of affirmation?

Is there an age after which I can change my preferred love language? Or is that a default setting that I return to?

In case you are wondering Child 1 responds best to words of affirmation and Child 2 prefers physical touch, for the time being.

Tonight I am helping with the Soup Run

Tonight I am helping out with the Birmingham Soup Run. Faith groups around the city are organised in a rota to provide meals and hot drinks to the homeless in the city centre at 8pm every night of the week.

Our group does the 4th Friday of every month. We meet up to make crates of sandwiches, flasks of soup and tea and catch up with one another before piling into a couple of cars and giving out free food on the pavement, opposite a multi-story car park.

In some way, I feel it gives me a bit more authenticity or integrity to talk and write about community and social justice. Perhaps I am doing “my bit” for the poor and downtrodden, but I don’t feel a sense of triumph at the end of the night, or feel like patting myself on the back…

I just feel sad. Really sad. The brief exchanges I have with our friends who receive the food make me realise how human, how broken, how real these people are. For a short time, I get a glimpse and a whiff of their lives and it makes me feel that a few hours once a month is not what a first Century rabbi had in mind when he spoke about separating the sheep from the goats and giving away my shirt and coat to those who need them.

Far from feeling happy that I might have done a good thing by taking part in the soup run, I feel frustrated that I am constrained by the norms of society and my own fear from getting involved in the lives of these broken people. I don’t want to pay of my conscience with a couple of hours of good deeds, but desire a heart that is big enough to care for them all dearly.

They are all someone’s brother, father, grandfather, daughter. All I can do is silently pray for them, knowing and secretly hoping that I won’t be called to be the answer to my own prayers.

Our second go at "house church"

So I asked God
“What should I do?”
He said, “You already know”
“Love the Lord Your God,”
I replied
“And your neighbour as yourself”
Knowing I don’t do either
Very well
“Do the latter then”
“But who is my neighbour?”
I asked, tongue in cheekily
“Look it up in the dictionary”
came the divine response
Then silence

neighbour n.
1. a person who lives near or next to another


Not rocket science
Not mind-blowing
Not even an answer whispered on the wind
Or prayed over
Fervently by wagging tongues
Speaking tongues

Recipe for mild chaos ensues:
Take two families
Sprinkle a couple of extra
Lovely, loving Christians
Mix in praise
A bible treasure hunt
Prayer
Fold in a pizza or two
Top with cheesecake
From heaven
And bring to the boil
With endless
Cups of tea

How does an eye look after a foot?

Or a hand look after a belly button?
Except to realise
Make real
the knowledge
belief
and attitude
that one is connected to the other
as one body
when one part hurts
we all
hurt
we weep
with those that weep

the body may function
without a foot
but it will limp
and be unbalanced
surely people
are superior
to prosthetics

The heart of God

In our family we have a book about a well known little blue steam train, that comes with a mirror that slides out from the back cover. It’s designed (I think) to help teach emotional intelligence to young children, by encouraging them to identify the emotions on the faces of the characters and then copy them in the mirror.

Over the Christmas period we were discussing the book, and what our favourite “faces” were; surprised, happy…”and sad!” piped up Anya.

“Why sad?” her mother asked.

“Because, then you can make them feel better,” she replied, glowing with the excitement of the truth that she had discovered.

At the age of 5 she has begun to explore the part of her soul that holds onto the suffering of others and yearns to make the world a better place, one person at a time. Maybe I knew that at the age of five, but it’s taken me at least a quarter of a century to rediscover the heart of God within His image that resides in me. My task, now, is to nurture it in both myself and Anya.

Love languages between us

Words of Affirmation
Quietly spoken
As still small voice
Or just my imagination?
Does He need me
To tell Him 
I can’t describe
How big He he is?
But I guess
That’s worship
Quality Time
Easy to do
For Him
As He operates
Outside time
So has an eternity 
Of attention
For each of us
Whilst I struggle
To carve out
Sabbath time
Down time
Time
Receiving Gifts
Simply put
His Son
The Spirit
His Spirit
And the gifts
He brings
And in return…
A fraction of a tithe
And a desire
To give my life
But never quite managing
Acts of Service
He died for me.
In pale imitation
I try to help others
As a surrogate
For serving a Mighty God
Who has no need of my help
That is
When I’m not too busy
Serving myself
Physical Touch
Limited to those
Who lived 2000 years ago
And those 
Who understand
What it feels like
To be in the presence of God
I don’t
I struggle to know
what it feels like
To be near God
And only imagine
Hugging Him